What is the role of genetics in the development of suicidal behaviors?

Updated: Aug 29, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Some authorities believe that genetic factors alone may be involved in suicide, that suicide runs in families, and that having a relative who commits suicide is indeed a risk factor. Therefore, a family history of suicide is very significant. Careful assessments of family history of mental illness and suicide should be a routine aspect of patient evaluation.

Studies continue to show the gene connection in suicidal behavior. Genes related to serotonin have been implicated in histories of second suicide attempts. [43] In a study of postmortem brains and living cohorts, Guintivano et al found evidence of a genetic and epigenetic link between suicide and a single-nucleotide polymorphism in SKA2, a gene involved in cortisol suppression and stress regulation. [44, 45] Many of the discussed mental illnesses (eg, bipolar disorder) are not only risk factors for suicide but also have strong genetic components.

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